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SpaceX delays back-to-back Falcon 9 rocket launches due to bad weather

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 Earth-observation radar satellite for Italy stands atop Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Its launch has been delayed to Jan. 30, 2022.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 Earth-observation radar satellite for Italy stands atop Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Its launch has been delayed to Jan. 30, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX delayed two back-to-back rocket launches from Florida on Saturday (Jan. 29) due to bad weather that has already pushed back the missions in recent days. 

The private spaceflight company hoped to launch an Earth-observation satellite for Italy Saturday evening from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:11 p.m. EST (2311 GMT), but unacceptable weather prevented the flight. It's the third weather delay in as many days for the SpaceX mission, which will launch the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2) satellite for the Italian Space Agency and that country's military.

"Due to weather in Florida affecting pre-launch operations, now targeting Sunday, January 30 at 6:11 p.m. EST for launch of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 from SLC-40," SpaceX wrote in a Twitter update (opens in new tab) earlier Saturday, using the acronym for the mission's Space Launch Complex 40 launch pad.

Related: The evolution of SpaceX's rockets in pictures

An artist's illustration of the Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 Earth-observation satellite built for the Italian Space Agency (ASI). SpaceX will launch the satellite on Jan. 27, 2022. (Image credit: ASI)

SpaceX initially hoped to launch the CSG-2 mission on Thursday, but stood down due to weather. On Friday, the SpaceX fueled the Falcon 9 rocket carrying CSG-2, but called off the launch due to thick clouds and strong winds.

The delays have had a ripple effect for SpaceX's missions. The Hawthorne, California-based company is also preparing to launch its next batch of Starlink internet satellites from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is near the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. That mission was originally expected to launch on Saturday afternoon, but was delayed to no earlier than Sunday due to the CSG-2 launch delay on Friday. 

Now, the Starlink mission will launch no earlier than Monday (Jan. 31), SpaceX officials said. The company is also preparing to launch a third rocket carrying the classified NROL-87 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on Feb. 2. That mission will lift off from SpaceX's pad at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and has not been affected by Florida's weather woes. 

"Falcon 9 launch of Starlink from LC-39A shifting to Monday, January 31, and teams are also continuing to work toward launch of NROL-87 from California on Wednesday, February 2," SpaceX wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab) Saturday.

The weather outlook does improve for SpaceX's Florida missions on Sunday.

According to the latest forecast by the Delta 45 group (opens in new tab) of the U.S. Space Force in Florida, there is less than a 10% chance of bad weather affecting SpaceX's CSG-2 satellite launch plans on Sunday. Similar conditions are expected on Monday of the mission has to delay another 24 hours. 

A second forecast for the Starlink mission (opens in new tab) predicts a 90% chance of good weather on Monday, with a similar forecast for Tuesday (Feb. 1) in case of delay. In addition to launch weather, SpaceX also tracks weather at its land and drone ship landing sites in order to recover its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters, which are reusable.

SpaceX will provide a live webcast of all three of its upcoming launches. You can watch Sunday's launch here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or view it directly from the company's website (opens in new tab). SpaceX webcasts generally start 15 to 20 minutes before liftoff.

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.